From the elegant, glass-enclosed, monumental stair to the peaceful views of wooded landscape, the South Carolina Oncology Associates (SCOA) facility best illustrates the shift in healthcare philosophy from the treatment of illness to the healing of the whole patient—body, mind, and spirit.

The leading oncology group in the Southeast, SCOA sought to generate new revenue streams and to improve patient care and staff effectiveness by consolidating their four locations into a 107,364-square-foot facility that accommodates comprehensive cancer treatment (medical, radiation, and chemotherapy). Thoughtful planning and design maximize patient comfort and encourage wellness.

Natural light is welcomed throughout, and window banks in the infusion area offer inspiring views of an adjacent wetlands tract. Tropical aquariums and fine art provide graceful, positive distractions. Warm green and tan shades promote a soothing atmosphere, and vinyl wood flooring in the treatment areas lends a comforting element. Support space within the 85-chair, open infusion area invites family participation in the healing process. While these healing elements soothe the mind and spirit, the design also emphasizes patient comfort and convenience.

The circular patient drop-off drive provides access both to the main entrance and to a radiology and diagnostics entrance, reducing the distance patients must travel. From registration to exam, visits occur in a smooth and logical flow that eliminates stress. A pod design in the medical-oncology and infusion areas offers predictability for patients while creating opportunities for operational flexibility. Because the pods are of the same module, they can be easily shared should a physician require an extra exam room or infusion chair.

All of these amenities influence staff and physician satisfaction and effectiveness. In the staff lounge, a balcony overlooks the wetlands, providing an excellent location for respite, and windows open the physicians’ lounge to daylight and landscape views.

Service and staff corridors provide for separate circulation from patients to improve efficiency, and SCOA considers staff productivity to be at its highest possible level. Many staff members have indicated that they are now able to be more effective in their interaction with each other. Their satisfaction influences their treatment of patients and improves SCOA's ability to attract and retain the most highly skilled staff.

Not only will the facility flexibly accommodate expansion in imaging and diagnostics, but also its overall design will support future adaptations and changes in patient care.

Project category: New construction (completed December 2003)

Chief administrator: Frank Sobash, Chief Operating Officer, (803) 461-3000

Firm: Marshall Erdman & Associates, (608) 218-6326

Design team: John Stone, Principal-in-Charge; Gary Amato, Project Architect; Chris Nicholson, AIA, Project Designer; Dan Zarnstorff, ASLA, Site Designer; Tracie Rodman, ASID, Interior Design

Photography: ©2004 Brian Dressler/

Total building area (sq. ft.): 107,364

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $158

Total cost (excluding land): $16,921,788